Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: September 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Spark a positive change in the world

For all the negative imagery we see on the news and in social media, I really don't believe the world is falling apart. I don't believe we're on the brink of a race war, or that most men are out to victimize women, or much of anything the media might have us believe about our fellow human beings for the sake of ratings. I believe that at the heart of it, there is more that unites people than divides them, and if we could all just try to treat each other the way we'd want our kids, or our grandmothers to be treated, the world would be a much better place. 

But it's hard to get away from those constant messages of division and hate. 

Homeschoolers can live somewhat sheltered lives, it's true. Their circle of interaction is typically smaller than the hundreds of peers other kids pass in the halls of a public school And in many families, their exposure to social media is more closely monitored. We can choose to minimize their exposure to the constant stream of negativity, and instead emphasize the good in the world.

That's why I think homeschoolers, in particular, have a tremendous opportunity to change the world. All it takes is a little spark.




One of the lessons I am working hard to teach my kids is kindness. I've noticed that they go out of their way to hold doors for others. They offer to carry things for people, or pick up dropped objects. These little things may seem ordinary, and used to be thought of as just good manners, but consideration for others is a learned behavior. 

I've been working to teach my kids, both through discussion and example, what a difference a kind word can make. Yesterday, while my mom and I were sitting in a waiting room at the cancer treatment center, I noticed the elderly black man with the furrowed brow sitting across from me. He had taken three or four deep breaths in a row, letting each one out in a slow sigh. I didn't know if he was worried or just uncomfortable. Then I noticed his shoes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chance to win a $1500 giveaway at the Teach Them Diligently Launch Party

Hey, friends! Don't miss the 2018 Launch Party for the Teach Them Diligently homeschool conventions. Your friendly neighborhood Unplanned Homeschooler is an affiliate this year, and maybe more. Can't say yet. I don't even have the scoop for sure, but I am really excited! And wow, there will be more than $3500 in prizes, including a couple from me and lots more from other fabulous folks who you might know even better!





One lucky winner is even going to win a $1500 family getaway! It could be YOU. But not if you don't come to the party. So click one of the images or this link here and come on!


Enter to win 'The Birthday Cache' Book and Activity Pack

Thanks to the generosity of my friend, author, Amanda Zieba, you can win an amazing prize package including a copy of The Birthday Cache, a book about roadschooled twins, Mason and Molly Miles, and their journey to adventure. Also included is The Birthday Cache unit study and The Birthday Cache journal writes.

This amazing package is perfect for homeschooling families who love adventure, or who are interested in roadschooling or geocaching. The Birthday Cache is available on Amazon, and the unit study and journal writes are featured in Zieba's Teachers Pay Teachers store. One lucky winner will receive all three, absolutely free!


Check out this description from Zieba:


While twelve year old Mason Miles and his parents love their nomadic lifestyle living and working across the nation in their RV, his twin sister Molly is craving a normal life and scheming to put an stop to their endless road trip. For their twelfth birthday the twins open a GPS receiver and fall in love with the sport of geocaching. When they stumble upon a mysterious puzzle cache will their travels become interesting enough to change Molly's mind?

This giveaway begins September 20, 2017 and runs until midnight, September 30, 2017. One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entrants. Please complete all steps for additional chances to win.

The book and activities will be delivered in a digital download format. Winner will be notified by October 2, and must supply a valid e-mail address upon selection for delivery.



Monday, September 18, 2017

It's been 10 years since the scariest day of my life

Take a five pound bag of sugar and dump out about 1/4 of it. That's how much my youngest baby weighed when she was born. She was so tiny and more than a month early. I knew she was coming the day before. My doctor told me they had to take her by C-section the next morning, or risk her dying in the womb. I had less than 24 hours to process the fact that my baby was in imminent danger, and the only way to save her was a serious risk in itself.

It's been 10 years since the scariest day of my life. The Unplanned Homeschooler

That was ten years ago today. It's almost impossible to believe that my little preemie has grown into such a rambunctious, sassy, preteen girl.

The scariest thing I'd ever faced


Ten years ago, as I lay in the hospital waiting to be taken back to surgery, I could not stop the tears. The previous afternoon, the doctors had done the most advanced ultrasound workup they could do. They had estimated her weight at around three pounds, but said that her best, and likely her only chance to survive was if they could get her out of my womb quickly. My placenta was breaking down and leaving her there was sentencing her to starvation.

My youngest was supposed to be my easy baby. My healthy singleton. I'd already been through a high risk pregnancy, premature birth and NICU stay with my twins. But things don't always go according to plan. My twins they were both born bigger than her and a week further along, and their first few months had been arduous. I was so scared. Would she survive the birth? If so, would she make it through the challenges that surely awaited? There were no guarantees.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Where is this road taking me?

After one of the hardest years of my life, I thought the road was finally straightening out, but just like that it took another twist. Where are we headed now?


I don't know of anything that makes you feel more like a powerless backseat passenger of life's journey than dealing with the prolonged illness of a loved one. That's exactly the road I've been traveling with my mom for the past year.

You might say she's had one the worst years of her life, or the best, depending on how you choose to look at things. It's been a solid string of events that, one after another, it was a miracle she even survived. For that, we are immensely grateful.

When things went downhill


This time last fall, my mom started to feel bad, and it kept getting worse. Her blood pressure kept climbing, no matter what her doctors did to adjust her medication. Finally, after changing her cardiologist, a blockage was discovered in a renal artery, but not before her blood pressure had reached such high and sustained levels that she had multiple small strokes and ended up hospitalized right before Christmas.

Surgery was scheduled for her kidney, and one problem was fixed. But open heart surgery was on the horizon. Less than two months down the road, she was under the knife again. Within just a couple of weeks after the bypass, it was clear she was not out of the woods.


Another surgery to correct more arterial blockages followed, after weeks of excruciating pain. Apparently when you unkink a hose up the line, any blockages downstream scream out in agony from the new pressure.

Things were looking up


The third round of vascular surgery stopped the pain, and soon my mom appeared to be truly on the road to recovery. We said so many prayers of thanksgiving, knowing beyond a doubt that she had narrowly escaped death on multiple occasions this year.

It looked like clear road ahead. We started our new school year and got a few chapters into Algebra 2 and Geometry, signed my youngest up for co-op and started preparing for driver's ed with the twins. Things were going smoothly enough we even scheduled my older daughter's tonsillectomy, for just about the time the water park closed for the summer. I even started to revive my blog.

My mom, at age 70, was getting better, albeit slowly, and we all started to feel like we could take a deep breath and put this difficult season behind us. But the late summer cold she caught kept holding on, with a cough that refused to go away and shortness of breath that seemed to be a harbinger of trouble to come.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My secret weapon for teaching Spanish

I have a new secret weapon for teaching Spanish, and it is muy efectivo!




Your kids may already be familiar with this powerful tool, and think that it is just a fun game they stumbled upon online. But they do not know the whole truth.

Akinator, the Web Genie, is a popular game, wherein the user chooses a character and the Akinator attempts to guess the character's identity using yes/no questions. My kids introduced me to the game last year, and we have been playing ever since, trying to stump the Akinator with characters we hope he will not be able to guess.

The character you choose can be a real person, like a celebrity or historical figure, or you can choose fictitious characters from books, television, movies, or video games.

The Akinator has successfully guessed all sorts of characters, from Thomas the Tank Engine to George Washington, and just about everyone in between. In fact, one of the only characters I have been able to stump him with was Phronsie from the classic book, The Five Little Peppers. The Akinator seems to know just about everyone in this universe and beyond.

How the Akinator helps us learn Spanish


There is no better tool for helping a student learn than one they love to use. When my kids started taking Spanish this fall, I found a few resources I thought they might like. I even ordered a subsciption to People en Español. But when I remembered that the Akinator game was available in several different languages, including Spanish, I knew I was on to something awesome.

Being new to Spanish myself, I was excited to play a familiar game and help my kids and I build our vocabulary at the same time. We gave the Akinator a trial run, using a character we knew he was sure to get. It only took him 14 questions to get to this one: "¿A su personaje le picó una araña radiactiva?" (I'm pretty sure he meant radioactiva.)


Si! Si! And now, thanks to Google Translate, we know that una araña radioactiva means a radioactive spider. We have new words!

Let's play again!


We decided to try another character, this time a real person chosen by 9-year-old daughter. Within just a few questions, the Akinator was on the right track.

¿Su personaje está relacionado con el mundo de la música?

¿Su personaje es un cantante?

¿Su personaje tiene pelo rubio?

¿Su personaje suelen llevar los labios rojos?

Is my character related the world of music? Is she a singer? Does she have blonde hair? Red lips? Oh my gosh!


Yep, the Akinator got me. My character was Taylor Swift. I'm going to have to think a lot harder if I want to stump him next time, but look at all the new vocabulary words we've picked up just playing a couple of times. Check it out. It's free to play, and a whole lot of fun!


Monday, September 11, 2017

How we learn for free with Universal Class

I am always on the lookout for a great deal. Cheap curriculum is good, free is even better, but only if the resources are high quality and serve my purpose. I don't have time to waste on lousy resources, even if they don't cost me a dime.

That's why I decided to do a test run when I learned that Universal Class offered free classes through my local public library. I've been burned by free classes and extraordinarily cheap offerings on sites like Groupon before. Never again. This time, before adding anything to our fall semester, I spent a few weeks trying out one of the free classes as an enrolled student, just to see how effective the course would be.



Choosing a course wasn't easy. Universal Class has more than 500 classes in their course catalog, on everything from aromatherapy to precalculus. And although individual courses can cost more than $100 if you pay for them yourself, I had access to the whole smorgasbord for free if I logged in through my library portal. Which one would I choose?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Whatever they've done, it will be okay

She's sitting on her bed, a tear rolling down her cheek, feeling completely and utterly alone. She's embarrassed, and ashamed, and she doesn't know what to do. No part of her can believe that you will understand this thing she did. Or forgive her for it. She's never done anything like it before. She doesn't even understand why she did it, or why she was tempted to do it again.

Maybe God can't even forgive her. She tries to pray, but feels so ashamed and unworthy.

https://pixabay.com/en/silhouette-woman-alone-2606648/

If only you knew this secret she carried, you could take her in your arms and promise her it would be okay. You could reassure her that you love her, no matter what, and that God loves her even more.

His capacity for forgiveness is immeasurable, and because it is a gift that He gives freely, there is no question of being undeserving. Nothing we ever do could make us "deserving" of God's love... He just loves us because He does, even when we screw up monumentally.

If she would just come to you, you could share with her your own frailty, and your own confidence that you have been forgiven, maybe for things even worse than this horrible secret that is eating away at her. You could help her see that there are ways to make things right, and even if something can't be undone, there are ways to start over on a good path, to rebuild trust, to feel better. What can you do when you don't even know she's hurting?